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West Somerset Mineral Railway Project go to homepagelink to heritage lottery fund website


Information on where to find material for anyone who would like to dig deeper into the subjects in and around the West Somerset Mineral Railway.




One of the aims of the project is the publication of a new book on the Mineral Line that takes into account new material accumulated and further research conducted over the last 50 years. 


This new publication, an illustrated history of the mines and railway by Mike Jones and John Hamilton, will be published in autumn 2010 by Black Dwarf.  The book will be for sale at all good bookshops and at the National Park Centres and Tourist Information Centres.  


In addition, a limited edition by the same authors documenting research results has been published by Exmoor National Park Authority in spring 2010:  Buy online!


Mike Jones and John Hamilton (2010)

Neither here nor there? The mining and transport of iron ore from the Brendon Hills to South Wales 1825 – 1925, Volume I & II.

ISBN No 978-0-9563674-0-2


Reference copies of this edition are available at the Dulverton and Dunster visitor centres, the Watchet Market House Museum and at the Somerset Studies Library in Taunton. 

This limited edition is priced at £55 +p&p and can be purchased either online from the  Exmoor National Park Authority website or at the Exmoor National Park Centre at Dulverton (Tel: 01398 323841) while copies last.


Select Bibliography


Sellick, RJ et al (1962) The West Somerset Mineral Railway and the Story of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines. Newton Abbott: David & Charles.


Sellick, RJ (1976)  The Old Mineral Line: An illustrated survey of the West Somerset Mineral Railway from Watchet to the Brendon Hills as it was and is today. Dulverton: Exmoor Press.


Exmoor and the Brendon Hills

MacDermot, ET & Sellick, RJ (1973) A History of the Forest of Exmoor. Newton Abbott: David & Charles


Siraut, M (2009) Exmoor: The Making of an English Upland. Chichester: Phillimore



Atkinson, M (ed)(1997) Exmoor's Industrial Archaeology. Tiverton: Exmoor Books


Hamilton, J (2008) Men & Mining on the Quantocks. Enlarged reprint of 1970s edition. Exmoor Mines Research Group


Jones, MH (2007)A report on the excavation of the winding house of the WSMR. In: Exmoor Mines Research Group Newsletter.


Jones, M H (2006) Brendon Hills Industrial Survey 1993-2005. In: Industrial Archaeology Review, Vol.28, No.2, pp.97-106.


Jones, MH (1988) The Excavation of Smoky Bottom Engine House. In: Industrial Archaeology Review, Vol.11 No.1, pp. 86-92.


Riley, H; Wilson-North, R (2002) The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. Swindon: English Heritage


Wilson-North, R (1996) Recording the Iron Mines of Exmoor.  In: Newman (ed.) (1996) Mining and Metallurgy in South-West Britain, Mining History: Bulletin PDMHS, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 137-142.



Burt, R; Waite, P; Burnley, R. (1984) Devon and Somerset Mines : metalliferous and associated minerals 1845-1913 (The mineral statistics for the United Kingdom 1845-1913, 6), University of Exeter Press in assoc. with NMRS.


Edwards, RA (2000) Exmoor Geology. Exploring the Landscapes, Rocks and Mines of the National Park. Tiverton: Exmoor Books



Dunning, RW (ed) (1985) Victoria County History: Somerset, Vol .V.Oxford: Oxford University Press


Wedlake, AL (1973) A History of Watchet. Dulverton: Exmoor Press


Norman, WH (1985) Tales of Watchet Harbour. Watchet: WH Norman



Watchet Market House Museum hosts a new exhibition on the West Somerset Mineral Railway. 


See the link panel on the right for a list of other local museums and exhibitions that cover aspects of transport, rural life and industry in the 19th century.



Documentary Sources

The majority of material about the West Somerset Mineral Railway and associated mining companies has been deposited in the Somerset Record Office (SRO), including a selection of historical photographs and measured drawings of the mines and railway structures.  Very few of the Ebbw Vale Company records have survived in the Gwent Record Office.


Publications on the Mineral Line, including Journal articles, some photographs and maps can be found in the Somerset Studies Library, based at Taunton Library.


Description of Deposit in the Somerset Record Office

Quoted from DD/CCH/47-53 West Somerset Mineral Railway records:


“The West Somerset Mineral Railway, running from Watchet Harbour to Gupworthy in Brompton Regis was incorporated in 1854 with Abraham Darby, Thomas Brown, William Tothill, Joseph Robinson and Frederick Levick as directors.  The first four were involved in several other industrial concerns including the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Co., and the Ebbw Vale Co. which made extensive use of the railway from its completion in 1856.  In 1869 the Ebbw Vale Iron, Steel and Coal Co., which had replaced the defunct Ebbw Vale Co. in 1866, took the railway on lease, under the West Somerset Mineral Railway Act of that year. The line was abandoned in 1923 and the affairs of the company finally wound up in 1925.


Material relating to the Railway can also be found in two earlier DD/CCH deposits, C/2367 and C/2397, the latter, boxes 17-25 has a large amount of correspondence 1885-1922, with other papers.


R. Sellick's The West Somerset Mineral Railway (1962) draws extensively on this collection.

A number of papers relating to the activities of the other companies mentioned above were found in the collection (Boxes 51 and 52), together with deeds and related documents (Box 53) which have no apparent connection with the railway or the other companies.


Mr Derwent Moger, a former partner of the depositing firm was Acting Secretary of the Railway Company 1923-1925.”